Sorry!! A little late with this one. Just life and living 🙂
Chapter 2 – Oahu
As Tom parked his rental car in the parking lot of the State Capital building he stared up at the building. It was not what he had imagined. With it’s long columns that reached up to a box of a building, his first thought was a spaceship on stilts. But as he got out of his car and walked closer to the building, he appreciated the intricate architecture of the building. The columns looked like palm trees. He then noticed that the building was surrounded by a pool of water. As he neared the water he inhaled. Was that smell coming from the pool? He hated to think it, but, it smelled like dead fish.
“That can’t be good,” he said outloud.
“It’s not. It’s algae growing in the water. Been a problem for years.” A man sitting by the pool said.
“Too bad. It’s really a beautiful feature of the building. But, can’t it be fixed?” Tom replied, as he stepped back from the water as the smell got stronger.
“Brother, that’s part of my job here. We go into the water and try to clean it with wet vacs. It’s no use. The algae will grow back. The powers up there,” he said pointing up to the building at the top of the columns, “say they are going to fix it. We’ll see. It’s supposed to be symbolic of the Pacific Ocean. All it’s really symbolic of now is the pollution in the ocean.”
“Man. So sorry to hear it. I sure hope they can come up with a solution soon. I know you don’t look forward to going into that smelly water.”
“Yeah. I got to find me another job brother. This is a nightmare. Say, are you here to take the tour of the building? It doesn’t start for a few more hours.”
“No. Actually, I was hoping to see someone at the Governor’s office. You see I’m a Private Investigator on the mainland. I thought I could offer to help find the Governor. Can you tell me how to find the Governor’s office? Which way do I go when I enter the building?”
“Hmm, don’t know if they will tell you anything brother. But, it’s worth a try. Once you go in, go up the stairs, you’ll see his office on the left. Good luck to you my friend.”
“Hey thanks man. And good luck to you today with the pool.” Tom said as he hurried towards the entrance of the building, glad to get away from the smell of the pool.
Tom looked for the door to the building, but soon realized that like many buildings in Hawaii, the Capital building did not have a door but, had a wide opening to an atrium. As he almost slipped on the rain soaked entrance, Tom stared up into the middle of the area. Where most Capital buildings had a dome or rotunda, this building was opened up to the sky. Tom located the stairs and made his way up to the Governor’s office.
As he entered the office, Tom was amazed at the simplicity of the space. White washed walls were covered in maps and pictures of the islands. Stark, metal desks lined the walls of the room. Even the computers were the older, bulky models not the sleek,modern models that everyone had these days. The woman at the one desk in the middle of the room smiled up at Tom.
“Hello. Can I help you?”
“Yes ma’am. I’m here to see if I can be of help with the investigation into the Governor’s disappearance. You see on the mainland, I work for as a corporate investigator. I thought I could be of some help and…”
Tom is interrupted by a large, young man with a fierce look in his eyes.
“Don’t worry Nona, I’ve got this. The police have a handle on the investigation into the Governor’s disappearance. Now, why on earth would you think anyone would need your help here?”
“We’ll sir, with all due respect, they have had no leads in two weeks. It’s as if the Governor of this state has vanished into thin air. Maybe a fresh perspective, a fresh pair of eyes can help.”
Tom did not notice the man that had come up behind him and startled, he jumped when the man began to speak.
“That’s enough Tiny,” the man said as he stood next to the younger man. “I feel this man means well. We will hear what he has to say,” the man ran his fingers through his short black hair and then extended his hand to Tom, “Ralph Solomon, I am the Lt. Governor of the state. This rude young man,” Ralph said as he went over and linked arms with the younger man, “is my son Tiny Solomon. He is one of the Governor’s body guards. He meant well. But, he has taken the disappearance of the Governor very personal.”
“Dad, really. This man is a complete stranger. Is this necessary? Just let me throw him out.” Tiny said as he straightened his tie over his massive stomach.
“Tiny,” Ralph said with the same fierceness in his own eyes, “I mean it. We will here him out. You will come with us to my office but say not another word. Are we clear on that?”
“Yes sir,” Tiny said but kept a wary eye on Tom.
Ralph turned back to Tom, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“Tom Carroll. Nice to meet you sir.” Tom said as he extended his hand again to the Lt Governor.
“Please call me Ralph. Come, lets go to my office to talk.”
Eagerly, Tom followed the Lt. Governor and his son. However, he thought to himself that it was odd that the Lt Governor of the state would so easily invite him into to his office to talk. Tom expected that at most he would speak with the receptionist and maybe to one of the Governor’s aides. Something about this was uncomfortable; Tom just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Please Tom, sit down. Can I get you anything to drink?” Ralph said as he took his seat behind the massive desk.
“No, but thank you. Sir, uh, Ralph, what a lovely desk,” Tom said as he ran his hand down the front of the wood desk. His hand paused on the first carving, a palm tree, “what type of wood is that? I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
“Ah, thank you brother. It is made of Hawaiian Koa wood. I had the desk specially made when I became Lt. Governor. A gift to myself to celebrate. But, now Tom Carroll, please tell me how you think you can help us find Governor Lee. What can you do that our very capable police force has not done?” Ralph said as he leaned back in his chair and gazed at Tom.
“Well, maybe nothing sir. But, I figure with my private investigative skills, I might be able to get a fresh angle on the Governor’s disappearance. I understand there have been no leads. Is that the case?”
“That is true. Two weeks and not a clue where this man has gone,” Ralph said turning to stare out the window behind him.
“Well, sir, I would like to give it a shot. See what I can find out. Would that be okay? You really have nothing to loose.”
“Why not. But you would have to sign some sort of waiver that said that the state is not responsible if something were to happen to you.”
“Also, I need some credentials. May I contact your employer. Where did you say? Atlanta?”
“Yes. Atlanta. My company is Atlanta PI. Here, I will write the number down for you,” Tom said as he removed his notepad from his pocket and quickly wrote down the number.
“Great. Wait here. Tiny and I will be right back.”
Ralph turned to leave the room but turned back to Tom.
“So, why is it you are here in Hawaii? Did you come for vacation? Why do you want to get wrapped up in the Governor’s disappearance? Don’t you want to enjoy the islands? Relax?”
“I thought I did want to come to relax sir,” Tom said as he stared down as his feet. “But you see sir, this was supposed to be my wife and I’s twentieth wedding anniversary. She died though, years ago. So, without Amanda, I can’t relax here, not without her here. This investigation would be a welcome distraction.”
“I see,” Ralph said as he studied Tom’s face. “I am sorry for your loss Tom. Well, we will hope your distraction will help us find Joseph Lee.”
Tom watched as father and son left the room. This is way too easy he thought to himself again. Something is off. Tom crossed his legs and opened his notepad again. He made a note to research Ralph Solomon.
Tom jumped when the door opened and the two men reentered the room.
“Okay my friend. Your employer gave you a glowing endorsement. You are on the case my friend,” Ralph said as Tom rose to his feet, “just be careful. Joseph Lee had some enemies. He was tough on crime; especially drugs. Some bad folks didn’t like the man. Careful what you stir up brother.”
“Thanks for the warning. I’ll watch my back.”
“Good deal. Look, I’ve got a meeting and need to go. Nona should have the waiver ready for you to sign. Follow me.” As they stepped outside Ralph’s office, Nona motioned for them to come to her desk.
“Mr. Carroll, if you can sign here,” she pointed to the bottom of the document.
As Tom signed the one page document, Ralph waited patiently at the door that lead out to the hallway.
“Walk with me Tom, I have just a few minutes, I can give you a brief tour of the building before I go.”
“Thank you. It’s a most impressive building,” Tom said as he stepped out into the atrium and looked up at the opening in the middle of the atrium. “Don’t most capital buildings have a rotunda? Why does this building have an opening in the middle?”
“You are very observant Tom. I’m sure that makes you a good detective. It is said that the sky is the rotunda here. Many things in this building are symbolic of the Hawaiian Islands themselves. The reflecting pool outside symbolizes the Pacific Ocean. The legislative chambers are both cone shaped, symbolizing the volcanoes that made and make up the islands.The columns on the outside of the building are in the shape of Royal Palm Trees. There are eight columns on either side of the building symbolizing the eight main islands.” Ralph said as he gazed up at the sun shining down into the middle of the building.
“What an amazing place! Ralph, thanks again for having met with me. It was more than I expected when I came here today. I never dreamed I would get to meet and speak to the Lt.Governor of the state. It was an honor.”
“Well, you caught me at the right moment brother. Any earlier and I wouldn’t have been here. Any later and I would have been in a meeting. It’s your lucky day.” Ralph said as he headed towards the door of his office.
Tom started in the opposite direction toward the open air exit.
“Thanks again sir.”
“I expect a report in the next few days.”
“Yes sir,” Tom said unsure if the Lt. Governor had heard him.
Tom walked out to the atrium and stared up at the opening at the top of the building. He stopped as he thought he heard the Lt.Governor’s voice. He was obviously trying to keep his voice low. Tom eased to the side of a column to see if he could hear what was being said.
“Yes, Big Kahuna. The man actually wants to try to find the Governor. Well, he’s some kind of detective on the mainland. All he is really is another annoying tourist. But he thinks he can find out things the police can’t find out. Typical arrogant American. Yes sir, I understand. I’ll keep an eye on him. Trust me, he wont get anywhere near the Governor’s location. Hell, I don’t know the Governor’s location, or if he is still alive. Is he still alive? No, I uh understand, it’s not my concern at this point. Anyway, back to Tom. I figure I let him think he has my blessings and this will get him to trust me. That way I can keep him in check. Don’t worry Big K, this puny tourist will not ruin our plans.” Ralph ended the call and walked towards the side entrance of the building; never noticing Tom on the other side of the column.
Tom walked in the opposite direction and shook his head.
“What have I gotten myself into?” He said aloud to no one.